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Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Coughs and Colds

Your symptoms are most likely caused by a viral infection (viral rhinitis, the "common cold"). Unless your symptoms persist, it is probably not necessary for you to visit your doctor for an evaluation. Over-the-counter cold medicines that include a decongestant or an antihistamine medicine may be helpful. If you have a health condition such as heart disease or high blood pressure, discuss the safety of over-the-counter cold medicines with your doctor prior to using them.

You should be on the watch for symptoms that would suggest you have developed a bacterial infection in one of your sinuses ("acute sinusitis"). When the interior of the nose is inflamed by a virus, your sinuses may not drain well. This can allow a bacterial infection to develop, causing pus to collect in one of your sinuses.

If your illness persists for more than one week, symptoms that would suggest a bacterial sinus infection include

  • headache

  • fever

  • pus (murky or opaque fluid that is yellow, green, or brown) in the nose instead of clear mucus

  • a toothache in your upper set of teeth

  • tenderness of your face around the sinus areas (brow, nose, and cheeks)

  • a lump (that could be an enlarged lymph node) in your neck or near your ear.

One or more of these symptoms would make it advisable for you to visit with your doctor, if you continue to have symptoms for a total of longer than one week.


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